Malta’s foray in Club Med

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS -

This pa­per has been the only one to ques­tion the Prime Min­is­ter’s pres­ence at the Athens mini-sum­mit a few days ago. Nor were its points replied to by the gov­ern­ment. Now more de­tails have emerged about that meet­ing.

First of all, af­ter Brexit, th­ese coun­tries that at­tended the Athens meet­ing can now block EU progress through be­com­ing a block­ing mi­nor­ity. No de­tails have emerged about any agree­ment along th­ese lines, but one hopes our gov­ern­ment did not sign up to any such agree­ment, not even in prin­ci­ple.

Call­ing the Athens meet­ing a Club Med meet­ing is rather im­proper: Por­tu­gal, one of the par­tic­i­pants, is not in the Mediter­ranean.

Nor are they all led by so­cial­ists: Cyprus and Spain have cen­tre-right govern­ments and Spain’s Mar­i­ano Ra­joy was point­edly ab­sent since he has a low opin­ion of Greece’s Tsipras, the host of the meet­ing.

Nev­er­the­less the meet­ing has led to Ger­many’s Wolf­gang Schauble to say he de­spairs about the so­lu­tions of­fered by the Left.

The pres­ence of France’s Fran­cois Hol­lande

Ed­i­tor’s pick

can be ex­plained as seek­ing more to im­press the elec­torate back home with his left­ist cre­den­tials than any­thing else.

In the EU, and more markedly now, re­gional meet­ings are nor­mal. We have seen how strong the po­si­tions of the Viseg­rad na­tions – the Czech Repub­lic, Hun­gary, Poland and Slo­vakia – were af­ter the Bratislava sum­mit as re­gards the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The EU’s Nordic and Baltic na­tions also meet reg­u­larly.

The Athens meet­ing, at which our prime min­is­ter – who we haven’t heard ex­press any reser­va­tions at all – was present, con­cluded with the sign­ing of the Athens doc­u­ment, which has been de­scribed as a “rather un­fo­cused de­mand for EU eco­nomic poli­cies that put the ac­cent on growth and em­ploy­ment rather than on aus­ter­ity.”

Markus Fer­ber, a con­ser­va­tive Bavar­ian MEP, de­scribed the Athens meet­ing as “a strong coali­tion of re­form-re­sis­tant re­dis­trib­u­tors.”

More than any­thing else, how­ever, the Athens meet­ing was in­evitably over­shad­owed by the host, Greece, and its never-end­ing fight against Brus­sels and the ECB.

Last year, af­ter seven months of in­ept lead­er­ship which al­most led to Greece be­ing kicked out of the eu­ro­zone, premier Tsipras did a huge U-Turn and signed up to a €86 bil­lion in­ter­na­tional res­cue, Greece’s third bailout since 2010. But now, as was em­pha­sised by eu­ro­zone fi­nance min­is­ters who were meet­ing at the same time in Bratislava, a year af­ter, Greece has only im­ple­mented two of the 15 re­forms signed up to the EU. Worse, Tsipras is al­low­ing a crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion in a bla­tantly politi­cised case against the for­mer head of the na­tional sta­tis­ti­cal agency.

We thus ask again: was it in Malta’s in­ter­est to be at such a meet­ing? Did Malta ex­press any reser­va­tions as to the com­mon doc­u­ment and as re­gards the be­hav­iour of the host coun­try? Is it in Malta’s in­ter­est to be in such a re­gional group­ing and al­low it to be taken over by grow­ing rhetoric that is not shared by other mem­bers of the EU? Is it in Malta’s over­all in­ter­est to be con­sid­ered as of­fer­ing po­lit­i­cal cover to delin­quent poli­cies such as have brought Greece to its knees?

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